Editorial: Get out of my yard

It would seem that amongst all the high-stakes wrangling taking place between the City of St Augustine, the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, the King Street Merchants, and whoever’s trying to claim their share of the 450th pie this week, my front yard would be safe from unwanted government intrusion — no such luck.

Monday night, when the City of St Augustine convenes their regular commission meeting, Ordinance 2012-03 comes before the learned-five; because somebody thinks we need the city to regulate another part of our lives, and this time —

drum roll — it’s yard sales.

For the love of God, is there not something else the city attorney should be working on?

With very little predicate, except to cite the fact that Florida law gives the city commission the right to enact regulations, and some do-gooder got the ear of our Planning and Zoning Board appointees; the honorable Ron Brown draws on his years of legal training and the practice of municipal law, to carefully craft five pages of boilerplate to protect “the public health, safety and general welfare” of our fair town from the ravages of yard sales.

The perpetuation of government intrusion is not the exclusive domain of the feds, it starts right here in St Augustine. If we are not ever vigilant, our government will continue to grow us straight into bankruptcy — and this proposed ordinance, coming to public hearing Monday night, is a perfect example of the type of government we don’t need.

If approved, residents will be burdened, among other things and subject to a couple of exceptions, with a registration and permitting process when they want to hold a yard sale, or a bake sale, or church flea market, rummage sale, or estate sale.

The good news is the registration fee is free. The bad news is that the city taxpayers pickup the cost of administering the yard sale ordinance, code enforcement cost, and, even the eventuality of city police officers who will be permitted to come on the property of the yard sale “to monitor, inspect and determine compliance with this ordinance”.

If Tallahassee told the City they had to do all that additional work without making a charge, city officials, especially the politicians, would scream “unfunded mandate”.

Oh, I don’t want to forget … Ron was smart enough to include a “basement sale” in the ordinance; despite the fact that we are just inches above sea level (or less) just about everywhere in town and nobody has a basement. Good way to plan for everything, sport.

This ordinance is nothing more than an unnecessary waste of time, money, and loss of one more of our civil liberties.

Somehow, our community has managed to survive 450 years without this yard sale ordinance. Let’s see if we can make it another 450 years.

Michael Gold, Editor
Historic City News

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